It was with mixed feelings that blogger Angelo Braam read Donatella Gasparro’s blog last week. A lack of depth in various activities is indeed a let-down. But fewer coffee breaks? That would be disastrous.
© Sven Menschel
I have to admit that I am somewhat an addict to my little cup of coffee. Without a cup o’ joe in the morning, I’d rather spend the entire day in bed. I’ll have around ten more cups at uni, sponsored in part by my study association’s coffee card. And when I work until the early hours, a shot of espresso is no luxury.
So you can understand how important coffee breaks are to me. But it’s not just about the coffee. These breaks are also the moment to socialise with fellow students and with lecturers. And these moments have already been shortened by five minutes since the start of the academic year following the Extended Daytime Schedule (for those unfamiliar with it: shorter lecture times and shorter coffee breaks to cram more lectures in a day).
I am well integrated within my programme, but with the few contact hours, the breaks offer the opportunity to catch up with the people who are not part of my usual group of friends. Moreover, we have many lecturers who participate in fascinating case studies, are full of wisdom and knowledge, or who simply are amazing jokers. The ten minutes are too short to start a good conversation with the lecturer, as these ten measly minutes are necessary for the lecture-related questions.
The most difficult about this change is that in my experience, this has had a negative influence on the depth of lectures. The majority of our lectures are interesting and are more often than not taught by people who are truly inspiring. The foundation of the inspiration they offer often lies in their experience. Unfortunately, shorter lectures mean that they can convey less, and that they are often stressed for time at the end of the period because the lecture ends earlier than expected. The end of the lecture, which is meant to conclude with a summary of all gathered wisdom, is rushed and thus a lot less profound and inspiring.
Of course, I understand that such a measure was necessary to support a higher inflow of students and cram more lectures in a day. But is more necessarily better? There is most probably a correlation between this measure and the increasing stress among WUR staff and students.
There is more I would like to share on the subject, but I’m afraid I have to hurry to my coffee machine at home – my hands are starting to shake.